The Origin of the Office of
ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE
WALTER HAMILTON, Esq.,
Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society aJid of the Royal Historical
PRINTED FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION.
ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE.
Bv WALTER HAMILTON, Esq.,
Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and of the Royal Historical Society.
Im a recently published work the author has presented
biographical details of the Poets Laureate of England ; the
object of this paper is to place before the Royal Historical
Society in a concise form all the reliable information he has
obtained as to the origin of the office. From the appointment
of Chaucer about five hundred years have elapsed, and during
that period a long line of poets have held the title of Laureate.
I-^or the first two hundred years they were somev^hat irregularly
appointed, but from the creation of Richard Edwards in 1561,
they come down to the present time without interruption.
The selection of the Laureate has not always been a wise
one, but the list contains the names of a few of our greatest
authors, and the honour was certainly worthily bestowed upon
Edmund Spenser, Ben Jonson, John Dryden, Robert
Southey, William Wordsworth, and Alfred Tennyson. As
the custom of crowning successful poets appears to have been
in use since the origin of poetry itself, the office of Poet
Laureate can certainly boast of considerable antiquity, and the
laurel wreath of the Greeks and Romans was an envied trophy
long before our Druidical forefathers held aloft the mistletoe
bough in their mystic rites.
From what foreign nation we first borrowed the idea of a
King of the Poets is doubtful, but in order to fully understand
the title and the office as we now possess them, it is necessary
to examine the traditions of other European countries, where
the knowledge of letters existed, prior to their introduction
2 THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE.
into this country. The ancient Greeks and Romans in
their public games and ceremonies crowned their favourite
bards with laurel. When Domitian held the Capitoline
Games he himself placed the laurel wreath upon the head
of the successful author ; Statius was thrice crowned in this
manner. The custom was observed in Rome until about
393 A.D., when Theodosius suppressed it as a heathen practice,
though surely of a harmless description. In the Middle Ages
the Romans publicly conferred the title of Laureate upon
Francis Petrarch in 1341, and particulars of the ceremonies
then observed have been preserved.
Petrarch visited the court of Robert King of Naples, by
whom he was much admired, and at whose suggestion he
underwent an examination in history, literature, and
philosophy. Having passed through this preliminary ordeal
with eclat, King Robert wrote to the Roman Senate urging
them to offer the laurel to Petrarch, and the notification of
their intention to do so was sent to the poet at Vaucluse, in
August, 1340. King Robert presented his state robe to
Petrarch, desiring him to wear it on the day he should be
crowned ; the poet proceeded to Rome, on the 8th of April,
1 341, he was publicly crowned on the Capitoline Hill and
proclaimed Poet Laureate and Historiographer.
The following was the formula used on the occasion by the
Count d'Anguillara when he placed the laurel on the poet's
brow : —
" We, Count and Senator for us and our College, declare Francis
Petrarch, great poet and historian, and for a special mark of his
quality of poet, we have placed with our hands on his head a crown
of laurel, granting to him by the tenor of these presents, and by the
authority of King Robert, of the Senate and the people of Rome, in
the poetic as well as in the historic art, and generally in whatever
relates to the said arts, as well in this holy city as elsewhere, the free
and entire power of reading, disputing, and interpreting all ancient
books, to make new ones, and compose poems, which, God assisting,
shall endure from age to age."
Petrarch acknowledged the honour in a sonnet he then
THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE. 6
recited, he placed his chaplct on the hi^h altar of St. Peter's
Church, and returned home.
Another equally celebrated Italian Poet Laureate was
Torquato Tasso, born at Sorrento, near Naples, on the nth
March, 1544, and educated in the university of Padua.
His career was a chequered one, his poems brought him
fame, and he found much favour at the Court of Alfonso,
Duke of P^rrara, but at times a restless spirit urged him to
wander about the country in a state bordering upon destitu-
tion, and finally he became so peculiar in his habits that he
was for some years detained in a lunatic asylum. On his
release he resumed his wandering career ; his fame as the
author of Jernsalevi Delivered had, however, reached Rome,
and Pope Clement VIIL sent an invitation to Tasso, then at
Mantua, and in November, 1594, Tasso arrived in Rome,
where he was received with much distinction by the Pope,
who intended to confer the laureate crown upon him in the
"'I will give to you the laurel crown,' said Clement, 'that it
may receive as much honour from you as it has conferred upon
those who have had it before you.' "
Preparations were made for the ceremony, which was fixed
to take place on the 25th day of April, 1595, but during the
winter Tasso's health rapidly declined, and he died on the
very day appointed for his coronation, in the monastery of
St. Onofrio, at the age of fifty-two.
About 1 5 14, Pope Leo X. named a wretched Neapolitan
poetaster, one Camillo Querno, ArcJiipocta.
The inauguration was attended by much ceremony, probably
only intended as a burlesque, but it affected the poet to tears.
His crown was composed of a spray of the time-honoured
laurel, with vine leaves, emblematic of Bacchus, God of wine,
and the fine arts, and cabbage, which, according to an old
superstition, was an antidote to drunkenness ; history, how-
ever, records that in this instance it failed to keep the poet
4 THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE.
This man appears to have been the butt of the Roman
nobles, who incited him to repeat one of his works, an almost
interminable epic poem entitled ^ /^.rz^j- / emboldened by this
encouragement Ouerno incautiously boasted his power to
make extempore verses for a thousand poets, when he was
reminded that he also drank sufficient for a thousand bards as
good as he.
" Archipoeta facit versus pro mille poetis !
Et pro mille aliis archipoeta bibit ! "
The perquisites allotted to this individual were the leavings
of the Pope's dishes and flagons, whilst all the circumstances
of his appointment were so absurd that Englishmen would
long since have forgotten his name but for Alexander Pope's
well known lines in the Dunciad : —
"Not with more glee, by hands Pontific crown'd,
With scarlet hats wide-waving circled round,
Rome in her Capitol saw Ouerno sit,
Throned on seven hills, the Antichrist of wit.''
The present Poet Laureate of the kingdom of Italy is Signor
Giovanni Prati, a poet whose works are greatly admired by
his countrymen. This gentleman was born at Dascindo,
January 27, 18 15, he studied law at Padua, and was elected
a member of the Italian Parliament in 1862.
In the empire of Germany the office appears to have been
regularly maintained ; the honour of laureation was usually
conferred by the State, or by some university, and was by
no means confined to one poet at a time, as has usually been
the case in England. Latterly indeed the title was so lavishly
bestowed by the German Emperors as to bring it into
contempt, and numerous satires were directed against those
who received and those who conferred the dignity.
The first Poet Laureate of the German empire, of whom
mention can be found, was Conradus Celtes Protuccius, who
was created by the Emperor Frederick III. about the year
1466, This Laureate afterwards received a patent from
Maximilian I., naming him Rector of the College of Poetry
and Rhetoric in Vienna, with power to confer the laurels on
THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE. 5
approved students. Thus was the office handed down, the
laurels being conferred either by Imperial anthority under the
Emperor's own hand, or by the Counts Palatine, or by others
having official instructions and full authority. The poets were
crowned with sprays of the tree of their old patron Phoebus,
and the ceremony was invested with considerable importance.
Apostolo Zeno (1669-1750), the Venetian composer and father
of the Italian opera, was one of the most notable men who
received the title II Poeta Cesareo.
His successor was the still more celebrated Pietro A. D. B.
Metastasio (1698-1782), upon whom the Emperor Charles VI,
conferred the title in 1729, with a pension of 4,000 guil-
ders. Frederick, another of the German Emperors, presented
the laurels to Pope Pius II., as a mark of his appreciation of
that Pontiffs writings.
The University of Strasbourg enjo}'cd the special privilege
of creating Laureates, and availed itself of its prerogative with
more freedom than discrimination. Probably the candidates
for the laurels had to pay very heavy fees for the honour, which
was doubtless considered in the light of a diploma, or degree,
as we find that in the year 1621 no less than three Poets
Laureate were created. The formula used on the occasion
by the Chancellor of the University of Strasbourg was as
follows : —
" I create you, being placed in a chair of state, crowned with
laurel and ivy, and wearing a ring of gold, and the same do pronounce
and constitute, Poets Laureate, in the name of the Holy Trinity,
the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen."
John Selden, in his work on " Titles of Honour," gives an
interesting account of the manner in which the ceremony of
investing a poet with the laurels was performed at Strasbourg
in 1616 by the Count Palatine, Thomas Obrechtus. The
recipient — Joannes Paulus Crusius — attended at the time and
place appointed by the public proclamation of the Count, and
the assembly being full, Crusius commenced the proceedings
by reciting a petitioning epigram. The Count Palatine then
6 THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE.
delivered a long oration in praise of the art of poetry, and
addressed Crusius in a Latin exordium. Then Crusius
recited a poem consisting of 300 verses, \\hich were called in
the ceremony of the creation specimens/;'^? i})ipetranda Lames,
and were composed upon a subject selected by the candidate.
Count Obrechtus now displayed his patent as Count Palatine
granted by the Emperor, citing from it the clause which con-
ferred the power of creating Poets Laureate.
Crusius then took an oath of allegiance to the Emperor and
liis successors, whereupon the Count crowned him with laurels,
and proclaimed him Poetain ct Vatcni Lattrcatuui. A gold
ring was placed upon his finger, and the Count made a speech
exhorting Crusius to uphold the dignity conferred upon him.
The Laureate replied in another poetical recitation expres-
sive of his thanks, and of his desire to preserve the honour
of the office, upon which the ceremony ended, as one would
imagine to the great delight of the fatigued spectators.
The French do not appear to have adopted the title of Poet
Laureate, nor have they applied it to any of their writers.
Some of their historians have entitled Pierre de Ronsard
( 1 524-1 586), the Regal poet, but this would seem to ha\e
been but an idle compliment.
During the Middle Ages a curious institution existed
known as Les y£'//,r_^6';'(7//,r, consisting of poetical competitions
or tournaments, the prizes consisting of flowers fashioned in
gold and silver. Clemence Lsaure, Countess of Toulouse,
revived these poetical contests in 1498, which henceforth were
held annually in May. The conquerors were crov/ncd v\ith
chaplets of natural flowers, degrees Mere conferred, and he
who had three times won a prize was created a Docteur en
goye Scie?iee, the instrument of creation being in verse.
Clemence Lsaure, by her will, left a sum of money to be
expended in prizes, which continued to be contested for until
the floral games were suppressed in 1790. Napoleon re-
established them in 1806, and the successful poems have been
published from time to tim.c. These games deri\-cd a certain
air of importance from the fact that in 1694 Louis XIV.
THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE. 7
granted by letters patent the title of Academy to the floral
games. (See " Curiosites Litteraires," by L. Lalanne, Paris,
The institution was known as early as 1323 as the College
du gai Scavoir, or de la gate Science. The title Jciix Jloraux
appears to have come into use at the time of the revival of
the ceremonies by the Countess Isaure. Some historians
have cast doubts on the history of that lady, but the French
people implicitly believe in the main facts as herein detailed,
and have erected a statue to her memory in the gardens of
the Palais du Luxembourg, at Paris, with the inscrij^tion
Foiidatrice des ye?ix Jloraux.
The title of Poet Laureate is used in Spain as a degree
conferred by the universities, as it was once in England,
the University of Seville having, it is said, established that
Cervantes contemptuously alludes to the title in the second
part of Don Quixote, where he makes Sancho say : —
" Forgive me, honest Dapple, and entreat fortune in the best terms
thou canst use, to deliver us from this vexatious misery in which we
are equally involved ; in which case I promise to put a crown of
laurel upon thy head, so as thou shalt look like a Poet Laureate ;
and widial, to give tbee a double allowance of provender,"
To turn our attention to the office as it exists in our own
islands, we can trace it, under one form or another, back to a
very remote period.
From very ancient records it appears that the old Scandi-
navian nations not only had royal bards, but that the L-ish and
Welsh kings were constantly attended by their poets. Some
regulations dating from 940 show that the bards of the Welsh
kings were domestic officers in the royal household, to each of
whom the king allowed a horse and a woollen robe, and the
queen a linen garment. Numerous were the fees and
privileges enjo}'ed b)- the ro\"al bards in Wales, whilst some of
8 THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE,
the duties required were sufficiently singular and quaint.
Witness the following : —
" The Governor of the castle was privileged to sit next to him in
the hall, on the three principal feast days, and to place the harp in
his hand, and on those days the poet was to receive "the steward's
robe as a fee. The bard was to sing a song in the queen's chamber
if desired ; he was to have an ox or a cow from the booty taken
from the enemy; and when the king's army was in array, he was to
sing the song of the British kings. When invested with the office
the king was to present him with a harp (according to some autho-
rities the gift was a chessboard) of the value of 120 pence, and the
queen was to give him a ring of gold. When the king rode out of
the castle, five bards were to accompany him ; if the poet asked a
favour, or gratuity of the king, he was fined an ode or a poem ; if of
a nobleman or chief, three ; if of a vassal he was to sing him to
In 1078 Gryffith ap Conan, King of Wales, placed the bards
under certain rules and restrictions, at the same time that he
drew up stringent laws for the protection of their lives and
property. Thus whoever even slightly injured a bard was to
be fined six cows and 1 20 pence, whilst the murderer of one
of these highly prized individuals was to be punished by the
infliction of a fine of 120 cows.
An early connection had existed between the Welsh and
the Irish poets, and many of the regulations in Ireland were
of a similar character to those observed in Wales, and all
pointed strongly to the high estimation in which the bards
Various circumstances conspired to sweep away these
customs from England and Ireland, notably the introduction
of large foreign elements into the population, and the various
changes in the language. But with the Welsh, remarkable for
their descent from the early Britons, for the ancient language
they speak, and for their intense love of nationality, these
bardic festivities were long preserved in memory of the days
of bygone greatness.
The City of London had for many years an officer entitled
THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE. 9
the Cztf Poet, whose talents were to be devoted to the
interests of the metropohs and the glorification of its Mayors.
The following is a list of some of the principal holders of
the office : —
Anthony Munday ...
John Taylor (the Water Poet)
The exact origin of the title of Poet Laureate in England
is involved in considerable obscurity ; the two greatest authori-
ties on the point — namely, John Selden, in his "Titles of
Honour," and Thomas Warton, in his " History of English
Poetry " — are unable to trace back the appointment to its
In the first instance there can be little doubt that the idea
of conferring honour upon their poets by crowning them was
imitated by the English from the later Roman Empire. The
universities conferred the title as a reward for skill in Latin
versification ; works in the vulgar tongue were not taken into
Of the university Laureates those of Oxford appear to
have been the most celebrated. The title or degree was
accompanied by a wreath of laurel. From the Oxford Uni-
versity registers it appears that on the 12th day of March,
15 II, Edward Watson, student in grammar, obtained the
laurels on the condition that he would compose a Latin poem
in praise of his university. Li 15 12 Richard Smyth obtained
the same dignity, subject to his composing 100 Latin hexa-
meter verses to be affixed to the gates of St. Mary's Church.
10 THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE.
Maurice Byrchenshaw, another Laureate, was desired to
write the same number of verses, and to promise not to read
Ovid's "Art of Love" with his pupils.
The celebrated John Skelton also laureated at Oxford, and
was permitted to wear the Cambridge laurel and robe as a
mark of particular favour — honours to which he somewhat
boastfully refers in his poems.
" At Oxford, the University,
Advanced I was to that degree ;
By whole consent of their Senate,
I was made Poet Laureate."
He was also permitted to wear a special robe of white
and green, the king's colours, decorated with gold and silk
embroidery, the name of the poetical muse being worked
upon it, as appears from his own description : —
" Why were ye, CaUiope,
Embroider'd with letters of gold ?
Skelton Laureate, orator regius,
Maketh this answer : —
As ye may see.
Regent is she of poets all,
Which gave to me
The high degree
Laureate to be of fame royal.
Whose name enrolled
With silk and gold
I dare be bold thus for to wear."
Robert Whittington was the last recipient of a rhetorical
degree at O.xford. He wrote some panegyrics on Henry VHL
and Cardinal Wolsey, but there is no reason to suppose that
he held the title of Laureate by royal appointment.
In addition, however, to these university Laureates, there
had been from time immemorial an officer in the Ro}-al house-
hold called the King's Poet, or King's Versificator. Of this
office, and of those who held it, little can be learnt ; no records
are known to exist of any coronation ceremony on their
investiture, nor can it be said for what period the office was
held. The first record of pa\'mcnt to the /\//i^'s Versifier
THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE. 11
occurs as early as 1251, when Henry III. made a grant of loo
shillings per annum to Henri d'Avranches, a French poet and
minstrel. These royal bards appear to have composed most
of their poems in Latin, the first of whom mention is made
being William Pcregrinus, or "The Foreigner," who accom-
panied Richard Cceur-de-Lion to the Crusades, and celebrated
his warlike deeds in a Latin poem dedicated to Stephen
Turnham, a renowned Crusader.
Robert Baston held the same appointment under Edward H.,
whom he accompanied to the siege of Stirling. The
operations inspired Baston with a subject for a poem in Latin
hexameters ; but he was soon afterwards captured by the
Scots, who forced him to write an eulogium on Robert Bruce,
which he also performed in the same language and metre.
Having thus taken a mild revenge upon the bard, the Scots
set him at liberty.
Baston died in 1310. He is usually styled Poet Laureate
and Oxford Orator.
Geoffrey Chaucer, the first poet of any eminence who wrote
in the mother tongue, was styled Poet Laureate by his con-
temporaries, and received several ro}-al grants and offices.
He died on the 25th October, 1400, when his friend Sir John
Gower, a lawyer of some eminence and the author of the
" Confessio Amantis," appears to have obtained or to have
assumed the title.
James L of Scotland, during his captivity in this country,
cultivated the friendship of these learned men, and in his own
poem, entitled "The King's Ouhair," speaks respectfully of
them as "superlative as poetes laureate."
Sir John Gower died in the autumn of 1408.
In the time of Edward IV. John Kay was appointed to the
office, probably by the King himself No poetical works of
his remain to show what pretensions he had to the title of
foet, but one book of his survives which is more famous on
account of its excessi\'e rarity than from any intrinsic merit.
It is a prose translation of a Latin history of the Siege of
Rhodes, printed b)- \\\ Caxton in 1490, entitled "The D\!ect-
12 THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE.
able Newesse and Tythynges of the Gloryous Victorye of the
Rhodjans agaynst the Turkes," translated from the Latin of
G. Caoursin by JoJian Kaye (Poete Laureate). W. Caxton,
The dedication runs thus : —
" To the most excellente, most redoubted, and most Crysten
King, King Edward the Fourth, Johan Kaye, hys humble poete
laureate and most lowley seruante, kneyling unto the ground, sayth
As, however, Edward IV. died in 1483, the work must have
been written some years before Caxton printed it.
Andrew (or Andrea) Bernard, a French Augustine monk,
received the title, with a pension of ten marks, direct from the
Crown, about i486. All the pieces written by Bernard as
Laureate were composed in Latin, although he held office as
late as the reign of Henry VI IL
Prior to the appointment of Bernard very little regularity
appears to have been observed, and it is impossible to clearly
distinguish the Royal Laureates from the numerous university
poets who received that title.
From the time of Andrew Bernard, about i486, to that of
Ben Jonson in 1616, several Royal Laureates were appointed,
but without any legal or poetical ceremony, and in most cases
without any fixed emolument.
It is usual, therefore, to style Jonson's predecessors ]'^olu?i-
teer Laureates, he being the first to receive the title and
pension by Letters Patent under the great seal, bearing date
at Westminster, the first day of February, in the thirteenth
year of the reign of King James, i.e., 161 6.
The pension then granted was 100 marks of lawful money
per annum, during his life, but soon after the accession of
Charles I., Ben Jonson petitioned for an increase, and new
Letters Patent were issued, dated March, 1630.
After reciting the previous grant, the Patent proceeds : —
" Know yee nowe, that wee, for divers good considerations vs at
this present especially movinge, and in consideration of the good
and acceptable service done vnlo vs and our said father by the said
THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE. 13
Benjamin Johnson, and especially to encourage him to proceede in
those services of his witt and penn, which wee have enjoined vnto
him, and which we expect from him, are graciously pleased to
augment and increase the said annuitie or pension of loo marks,
vnto an annuitie of loo pounds of lawful money of England for his
life. . . . And further know yee, that wee of our more especial
grace, certen knowledge and meer motion, have given and granted,
and by these presents for us, our heires and successors, do give and
graunt unto the said Benjamin Johnson, and his assigns, one terse of
Canary Spanish wine yearly ; to have, hold, perceive, receive, and
take the said terse of Canary Spanish wine unto the said Benjamin
Johnson and his assigns during the term of his natural life, out of our
store of wines yearly, and from time to time remayninge at or in
our cellars within or belonging to our palace of Whitehall." En-
dorsed, — Expl. apud Wesim. vicesimo sexto die Martii anno R. Ris
The successors of Ben Jonson were Sir William Davenant,
John Dryden,Thomas Shadwell, Nahum Tate, Nicholas Rovve,
Laurence Eusden, Colley Gibber, William Whitehead, Thomas
Warton, Henry James Pye, Robert Southey, William
Wordsworth, Alfred Tennyson.
Our Court Poets Laureate have never been solemnly
crowned in public, nor have any examinations ever been held
to inquire into the fitness of candidates for the post.
Political feeling has more frequently influenced the selec-
tion than poetical merit, and although the appointment has
in most cases been held for life, Dryden was displaced on the
accession of William III., and Nahum Tate lost the office
on the death of Queen Anne, being succeeded by Rowe, who
was in favour with George L
Until the appointment of Shadwell by King William IIL
there were no official duties attached to the office, but he
commenced to perform a certain duty by composing an ode
to the Sovereign on his birthday, and another on New Year's
Day, and such odes were regularly written by all his suc-
cessors down to the year 1813, when on the death of H. J.
Pye the custom fell into disuse.
14 THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE.
The Laureate odes were sung to music, composed by
the Court musician, in St. James's Palace, before the
Sovereign and Court.
The Queen of the United Kingdom is probably the only
Sovereign in the Christian world who does not hold a State
reception on New Year's Day, and it is somewhat difficult to
account for the decline of all ceremonial observances on the
opening of the new year. Our ancestors appear to have
carried matters to the other extreme ; costly presents were
given and accepted, the lawyers used to wait upon the
Lord Chancellor, each man bringing with him a bag of
gold as tribute ; the Lord Mayor of London, with the
Aldermen and Masters of the different City Companies,
carried gifts of their special wares to the Sovereign, wine and
beer being always included amongst the offerings ; and the
Poet Laureate used to compose an ode which was set to
music by the Court musician, and sung before the King
and Royal Family.
Many of these courtly festivities were suspended during the
long illnesses of George IIL, some of them have never been
revived, and the birthday odes and New Year's odes ceased
to be performed a short time before the office of Laureate
was conferred upon Robert Southey.
The present Poet Laureate has occasionally written poems
laudatory of members of the Royal Family, but these have
been voluntary offerings, and issued at irregular intervals.
NOTES ON THE EMOLUMENTS OF THE OFFICE.
1 25 1. Henry III. grants 100 shillings per annum to Henri
d'Avranches, the King's Versifier.
1368. Edward HI. grants a daily pitcher of wine to Geoffrey
Chaucer, to be charged on the Port of London.
Shortly after his accession Richard II. commuted that allowance
for an annual payment of twenty marks.
November, i486. Henry VII. grants a pension of ten marks to
Andrew Bernard, Poet Laureate and Historiographer Royal.
THE ORIGIN OF THE OFFICE OF POET LAUREATE. 15
1591. Queen Elizabeth grants a yearly pension of ^50 to Edmund
Spenser, to commence February, 1591.
February, 1615-1616. James I. grants a pension of 100 marks to
1630. Charles I. appoints Ben Jonson to be Poet Laureate by
Royal Letters Patent, with ^100 pension and an annual allowance
of a butt of canary, commencing March, 1630.
As City Poet Ben Jonson for many years received a pension of
1660. In the list of the King's household at the Restoration no
mention is made of a Poet Laureate. Davenant nominally held the
l)ost, but probably received no direct salary.
1670. More than two years elapsed between the death of Davenant
and the grant of Letters Patent to Dryden in August, 1670.
i6<S5. James IL disallows the annual butt of sack, but increases
Dryden 's pension.
On the flight of James IL, Dryden loses his offices and retires into
1688. William III. appoints Thomas Shadwell his Poet Laureate,
with ;!^ioo a year and the allowance of wine.
These continue to be granted to each succeeding Laureate, until
the appointment of Henry James Pye in 1790, when he accepts
an annual payment of ^27 in lieu of the butt of sack.
1702. On the accession of Queen Anne, Nahum Tate was re-
appointed Laureate, and was also named Historiographer Royal, the
latter post carrying a pension of ;^20o a year.
1714. The office of Poet Laureate being placed in the gift of the
Lord Chamberlain (as it still is), it was necessary to reappoint
Mr. Nahum Tate.
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